Seamus tells me that this tribute first appeared in the match programme for the Tipperary County Senior Hurling Final, on November 2nd , 2014. Well done to Seamus for this tribute and indeed all the recent tributes that appear on Roscrea Online. Sometimes it can be all too easy to forget but thanks to people like Seamus the memories of those that have graced our past will live forever.
Remembering Owney Killoran – Roscrea and Tipperary (1944 to 2014) by Seamus O’ Doherty
The heroes of Tipperary’s Senior All Ireland victories in 1964/65 were honoured by the Co. Board ,at this year’s county semi finals. Those were also the first two years of the under 21 grade at inter county level and Tipperary played in both All Ireland finals, against Wexford, winning in 1964. En route to the final Tipperary beat Cork, Clare, Waterford and Roscommon.
Among the stars of those teams was right half back, Owen Killoran of Roscrea ,who died on October 10th last. His colleagues included Noel O’ Gorman, Mick Roche, Len Gaynor, Francis Loughnane, Peter O’ Sullivan and ‘Babs’ Keating , who all went on to play in Senior Finals in the years ahead. Roche and Keating had already starred in Tipp’s Senior win against Kilkenny in 1964 . John Dillon who captained Roscrea to a first Senior Co title in 1968 was also on the team, while Barney Hogan was a substitute. Owen captained the Tipperary Under 21 team in 1965, when the Munster title was retained, but this time Wexford turned the tables, in the All Ireland final. Francis Loughnane and Sean Carroll were the other Roscrea players involved.
Owen was a brilliant under age hurler with Roscrea and in 1962 he captained the club to the county Minor title - his fourth success- when beating Na Fianna ( Mid) ,in the Final. His display at centre back was ’ impressive’ according to match reports. The previous year he played on the club’s first North Under 21 Final winning team, as they beat Kildangan . Owen turned in a ‘good performance’ at half back. Unfortunately the competition wasn’t extended to county stage until 1963.The talented Owen captained Roscrea to victory in that first final, when they beat Holycross Ballycahill, at Nenagh on April 19th 1964. They had previously overcome Lorrha in the North Final and Cashel in the county semi final. In December of 1964, Roscrea again beat Cashel in the under 21 county Final , by an amazing 1-1 to 0-2 . That team was captained by Francis Loughnane and Owen was a key player, in a brilliant defence.
Owen was playing Senior with Roscrea in 1963 and after victories over Toomevara in the North Final and Moycarkey Borris in the Co. semi final it was looking good as the Reds prepared to face Thurles Sarsfields ,in the final ,at Nenagh on October 27th. Unfortunately for Owen, his mother died overnight and naturally he withdrew. The Roscrea selectors recast their team which failed to produce their best form, and lost by two goals.
The stylish hurler played with Roscrea Seniors again in 1964 and was impressive at right half back, in their five point county quarter final loss to Sarsfields, at Nenagh. He was in action again in 1965, but Roscrea ( without the experienced Kieran Carey and John Dillon) lost to Lorrha, in the North Semi Final.
Thereafter, Owen made the decision to play Rugby and at the time Rule 27 was in place and foreign games were banned to GAA members , either as players or spectators. By the time the rule was deleted ( 1971), Owen was too long gone to reclaim his zest for hurling, although several Roscrea RFC players doubled up , including Liam Spooner ( Roscrea Hurling captain 1978 & Leinster Junior Rugby captain 1975 ), Peadar Quealy ( Roscrea Hurling captain 1982 and Tipp Senior captain 1981), Philly O’ Rourke ( a Roscrea & Tipp minor hurler in 1962 ) , Christy Jones ( Laois hurler) and Paddy Kelly ( Laois hurler).
Owen’s loss to Roscrea hurling was huge and it was always agreed locally, that if he had stayed with the game, Ros might have won their first county title, before 1968.
Owen represented his clubs ( Roscrea Hurling and Inane Rovers Gaelic Football) on Tipperary championship panels for Minor Hurling & Football 1962, Under 21 Football 1963 1964 1965, and Junior Football 1965. His half back colleague on the Tipp under 21 teams of 1964/65, Len Gaynor ( Kilruane Mac Donaghs) recalled Owen as ‘’..an unassuming man, who tackled tenaciously, played his position well and delivered the ball quickly to the forward line. He was very skilful ,respected by his team mates and proved to be an excellent captain in 1965.’’
An affable man, Owen, made friends wherever he went and when his Rugby playing days ended he served the club as an official. To his great delight, the club finally lifted the Leinster Provincial Towns Cup in the 1974/75 season, winning three of their four games by a point . During the club’s Golden Jubilee season 1999/2000 he held the position of Hon. Subscriptions Treasurer.
Owen will be remembered as a delightful half back, who would probably have played Senior championship hurling for Tipperary, if he had stayed with the hurley and sliothar. He made a tremendous contribution to Tipperary hurling in a short career and he will be remembered with affection by the older members of the GAA family.
He is mourned by Geraldine ( wife), Paula ( daughter), Eoghan , Brian and Dave (sons) and four grandchildren.